Winners and losers from Bengals Week 16 win vs Patriots

Leigh Oleszczak
Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots
Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots / Winslow Townson/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Bengals were able to eke out an ugly win against the New England Patriots and that's not a sentence I expected to write in a post-game article after the good guys went up 22-0 in the first half.

Give the Patriots credit here -- They fought hard and made a game of it. Were it not for a late-game red zone fumble, the Patriots probably win this game and send Cincinnati back into second place in the AFC North.

Fortunately, the fumble did happen so the Bengals held on to move to 11-4 and winners of seven-straight games. Phew!

With the game in the books, let's check out some winners and losers from this one. Per tradition, since the team won, we'll start with the losers.

Losers

Evan McPherson

This was not a good day for Evan McPherson, who missed two extra points (though one did not count due to a penalty) and also missed a field goal attempt. The weather was bad all over the NFL on Christmas Eve and the Patriots kicker also missed extra points but this was a poor-enough performance from McPherson that he has to be in the loser's section this week.

Run Game

The Bengals need to get their run game figured out by the time the playoffs get here because they're not going to be able to win in the playoffs without a solid run game.

This week, the rushing attack totaled a measly 73 yards off of 24 attempts and averaged 3.0 yards per carry. Joe Mixon, the leading rusher, had 65 yards on the ground so he did most of that damage.

When Cincinnati went up 22-0, that would have been the time for them to lean on their run game and let them bleed out the clock, but there was nothing doing there. That can't be the case in the playoffs.

Winners

Trenton Irwin

Trenton Irwin might be my new favorite story in the NFL. He had three catches in this game and two of them went for touchdowns. He also had 45 yards receiving on the day.

We all talked about how the Bengals would need to target a wide receiver this offseason but Irwin has made it to where that might not be the case anymore. In fact, he has been outplaying Tyler Boyd in recent weeks and while I'm not saying that he should be the WR3 over Boyd, if a team were to seek out Boyd this offseason, Cincinnati might want to consider a deal.

Pass Rush

The defense might have melted down in the second half but the pass rush was dominant throughout, sacking Mac Jones four times and hitting him seven times. Five different Bengals were credited with at least half a sack and rookie Zach Carter got the first sack of his career (well, half sack, but we'll count it).

Tee Higgins

It's going to be cost a pretty penny to keep Tee Higgins in the Queen City but fans would not be mad at the team for paying him. With Ja'Marr Chase focused on as the best weapon and therefore being double-covered more (he still had nice numbers), Higgins balled out, tallying eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown.

If teams want to take Chase out of the equation, no problem -- Joe Burrow just goes to Higgins or his new BFF Trenton Irwin instead. It's hard to slow this offense down.

Next. Oldest NFL Players to Ever Wear a Bengals Uniform. dark

Which other Bengals do you think belong in either of the winners or losers category?

All stats courtesy of ESPN

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